Chebacco News 74 – Dennis Gamble’s photos

Hi Andrew,

I launched my Chebacco “Moonshine” for the first time last year.  Here are some pictures from last year’s sailing for the website if interested.

I sail mostly in Wisconsin, with Lake Dubay being my home lake.

-Dennis Gamble

Thanks Dennis

An Appeal For Support

By mid 2022 I will have been hosting this site for Chebacco owners for 8 Years. There have been lots of interesting posts but I rely on the community out there to send me photos and stories to include. It is a challenging world out there at the moment – but I am sure you are still thinking and working and sailing Chebacco’s, so keep the information coming. Email me at <my given name>

Also, I am up for some web hosting costs this August ’22 (about US$100 per year x another 8 years), this amazing site is too big for a free host. Thanks to everyone who has made a donation in the past – but if you haven’t or you wish to make another donation I would appreciate your help. There is a donate button on the front page at the bottom.


29th March 2022

Chebacco News 72 – Chris Smead’s Chocolate Moose Part 2

Chris’ project continues on through the pandemic – Great photos, well thought through build, it is going to be a sail boat comparable to any Chebacco out there. – it looks like there is a part 3 to come too. Chris writes:

I forget to mention that I glassed the bottom, all the way over the joint with the bilge panels. I did not glass around the keel  or the topsides. 

I started sewing the sails, a kit from Sailrite here in the States. This is the mizzen with panels joined but it still needs patches and all the edge work. My church was closed for a long time during the pandemic and it gave me a great opportunity to use the huge lobby floor as a sail loft!

I decided to paint the bottom before flipping the hull. I used latex floor enamel paint. It won’t have that glossy finish and maybe not the wearability of marine-grade paint, but it was easy to apply and clean up, as well as quick-drying and not so toxic to the people who live in my house (especially over the garage). Besides, this boat will live indoors, in my garage for the majority of its life! Painting revealed lots of imperfections to be filled and faired. That process is ongoing even today, but I had to get after the ones that would be harder to reach after the hull got turned over! Here I am getting ready to unfasten the hull from the strongback in preparation for turning over.

What a triumphant moment! Here we are basking in glory – a hull in one piece and right-side-up! I have a second-hand trailer shown here. It still needs to be fixed up, but I’ll block the whole thing up to continue working on the hull on top of the trailer. 

I took off the front part (tongue?) because it had to fit in my garage. Wouldn’t you know it – I had to park it diagonally because my garage door wouldn’t otherwise clear the bow in the upright position. My “manning-esque” bench came apart and got reassigned.

In this picture, I am preparing the FG tape on the inside seams.

I gotta tell you, it’s a surreal feeling when I look at the upright hull. That bow is so high! I didn’t expect it to feel like such a rise. Once I gained the confidence to step aboard, I spent a long time sitting in the cockpit just looking around. So happy!

This is a dry fit of the rudder box. I just had to install it on that square hole in the hull. Man, it was hard to start cutting that hole (mentally).

I did some framing next, for the cockpit and deck. I thought about making a bridge deck. My decision against it came from wanting to keep a large cockpit, and a plan to use the floorboards to make a flat platform in any configuration needed. 

Here you see the aft quarters and the framing just installed. You can also see the side deck, which overlaps the last bulkhead into the aft section a little bit. I did this because I couldn’t figure out how to make a trustworthy butt joint right on the bulkhead, so I’m going to make one here instead, with a patch of wood underneath.

Here you see the same method (if you can even dignify it by calling it a method) on the forward end. I also fit the cabin sides. I thought it would be easier to do this before decking.

I got some great advice from Jamie Orr about mast slot design and it helped me think about how the mast partner pieces must go together. I read some classic posts from discussing weather helm. P. Bolger reportedly experienced a sail on a Chebacco and found more weather helm than he would have liked. He said moving the mast forward 3 or 4 inches wouldn’t hurt. I agonized about this for a few days, tried some different pencil marks and clamping arrangements, and settled on 2.5 inches forward of the mark on the plans.

I made the roof from 2 layers of quarter-inch. You can see here I also made the seats (which are not yet glued down in this picture) and also the, shall we say, backrest. In the plans, this backrest extends upward into a vertical coaming. I’m going to attempt an angled-back coaming and attach it to the backrest.

Then I cut the companionway and mast slot out.

Someone gave me an old 3-pulley bandsaw that I finally figured out how to repair and use. I used it to rough out the Jonesport cleat.

I took a shot at the sliding hatch by first looking at some examples for bigger boats in “How to Build a Wooden Boat” by David C. McIntosh and Samuel F. Manning. Then I dumbed it down and cobbled this, keeping the rails in place while gluing so I don’t mess up the shape and the squareness all around. No, that’s not the roof – just some scrap scaffolding to hold the shape while the glue dries.

I tacked on the roof later and started thinking about how to make the windows. I want them to be simple. Bill Sampson reported (over 20 years ago on, “I did SYLVESTER’s portlights simply by cutting oval holes in the sides of the cabin and screwing1/8″ acrylic sheet on the inside, with some clear silicone sealant between.” I think I might do that and maybe put a plywood border on the outside? 

Here are the aft deck pieces and also the side benches being glued down.

I mentioned that I wanted to angle the coaming and tried to figure out a good method. A local guy has a J. Welsford boat (I think it’s a Pathfinder) and I stopped by his garage. His boat has beautiful angled solid coaming and I checked the angle and height, then tried to carry the idea to my boat. Here is the block beside the cabin, cut to about 10 degrees. 

I also glued little angled, cypress blocks right on top of Frame #5 to help hold the coaming and also to place an oarlock someday. I sat against the coaming for a while after the epoxy cured. They seem pretty comfortable! Fellow chebacconist Howard Sharp suggested I also angle back the benches for comfort, but I decided not to try because of all the drainage engineering it would’ve required. 

Here are the slots for the companionway boards. Some glue ended up curing in the slots and I didn’t notice for days after. I’m having to scrape as much as I can reach. Also, I’m shaving down the boards so they will fit the slot. 

These aft-quarter coaming pieces had to match the rest of the coaming in curvature, so I had to carefully brace them in the right position while gluing. I still haven’t worked out all the mainsheet traveller and mizzen sheeting arrangement back here. Plus, there will be some kind of hatch for storage. I made the clamshell vents too. 

I glassed the joint between the cabin and deck. I’m not sure if it was necessary, but it seemed weak and I didn’t want to worry about it. 

I named it “Chocolate Moose.” I’ve tried on all kinds of other names. Some were more cheeky, some were more serious, even borderline profound, but they didn’t fit. A moose is a majestic animal, brave, large, fierce, strong and peaceful. On the other hand, one can’t escape the fact that a moose has a certain, unavoidable tinge of ridiculousness woven into its very identity. Yes, a moose is ridiculous. I mean, just look at that nose and those big ol’ antlers! This mix of character reflects my boat, I believe.


(Rocky and Bullwinkle)

But even beyond these kinds of moose lies the best mousse of all! I mean, seriously, is there anything better? I doubt you could name a single better dessert. You might call it heaven in a cup. 

(Cooking Classy)

Andrew, sorry for the long-winded update, [Not at all! – Andrew] but let me leave you with a couple of questions:

1. I saw the pictures and videos of capsize testing using Jamie Orr’s Wayward Lass at the Wooden Boat Festival a few years back. When she was on her side, she floated high and water didn’t get into the cabin. She righted easily, it seemed. However, when turtles, she did come up, but completely flooded. With so much volume in that cabin and unsealed storage under the seats, etc., I don’t know how you would possibly add enough flotation to make her rescuable from a complete flood. Do you? it seems like the best strategy would be to make a mast float to help keep her on her side in the case of a knockdown. What do you think about this safety issue? 

2. Where and how do you attach the mast traveller? I was planning to use a simple rope one. Does it need to be tended while under sail? 

3. Do you have any suggestions regarding how to set up the boat to optimize its sailing performance? By this, I refer to the fact that, without a motor, I need the boat to be able to point well and sail well generally over a broad range of conditions. Any tips or rules of thumb? 

Chebacco News 71 – Chris Smead’s 19’3″ Chebacco part 1

It has been a while since we have had a reader story – it has been worth the wait. Chris has been asking questions and posting photos of his build on Woodenboat forum for a couple of years now. This is the first part of a two part story. Enjoy. Chris Smead writes:

Hi Andrew! I started building my sheet-ply version sometime in mid-2019, with great inspiration from those who have gone before me on! My wife and I have four kids and live in a Virginia Beach neighborhood which doesn’t allow building projects outside. I chose the design partly because it seemed like the “most boat” I could build and store in my garage! 

Dude, look at this picture (from I don’t know who this is or where this photo was taken, but look how many adults and kids are just having a blast on this thing! It’s like a sailing adventure party and it fired up my imagination. 

I started out laminating the spars, trying to get used to epoxy and how to work with it.

I think that’s the boom, oblong in cross-section. I used cypress. I still haven’t made the mast, which will be fir, but the rest of the spars are made and just waiting for fittings/finishing. 

I hired these guys to be the crew. This picture was taken in 2019 out by Lynnhaven Bay. They look so small now. Two years makes such a big difference with kids. Don’t they look like they need a boat for adventures? 

I remember laying out all these huge plywood sheets in the garage back in 2019, making straight lines and cutting with the jigsaw. You can see bulkheads and the temporary forms up against the back wall. On the ceiling is the other boat I built, an awesome 8’ Dave Gentry skin-on-frame sailing pram. Maybe it could be the tender one day? You can probably see that I have to work around lots of clutter. Our little garage serves many purposes besides boat building. It’s hard to keep it all organized, especially as the boat evolves. The curvy parts were more interesting and fiddly. This is the making of the stem pattern, bending battens over nails. This made me feel like a real boat builder, instead of just a jigsaw handler for straight lines on plywood. I made the inner and outer stems at the same time, thinking this would SURELY make them line up perfectly when it was time to attach them. (They didn’t, but it ended up working anyway.)

Here is the inner stem being laminated. It was hard to keep the layers aligned. I would have tried another system to hold everything in place if I had it to do over again. Luckily, it worked out anyway and there was plenty of wood left for the bevelling, which I messed up anyway. I needed more clamps. I still need more clamps. The thing is, it’s hard to make the inside surface smooth once all the epoxy cures because the surface is so concave and I don’t have a tool to match. A smoothish surface is needed later when fiberglassing the joint between the stem and the plywood panels on the inside, especially up near the breasthook.

Then, I got to shape the stem with a planer and a file. It’s funny, I tried to keep the bevels symmetrical as I did this, but I got off track somehow and didn’t realize it. In a later picture you may be able to discern the consequences of this mistake. If you look at the bow straight on, you mayyyyybe might see a slight asymmetry. It worked out alright, and I don’t think anyone would notice by looking at the boat now, but I will always know…

I tried to construct the hull bottom (which is flat athwartships, of course) using Payson’s method of fiberglass butt joints. Why did I make my first attempt upon the largest joint in the whole boat? You are right to ask this question. I messed it up. It’s supposed to go: Wet out fiberglass tape and ply ends with epoxy, lay out on (plastic-protected) floor, wet out new ply ends, apply fiberglass tape on top, saturate with epoxy and squeeze out bubbles with a painter’s edge.

I’m not sure if you can see in the picture, but there are a few air bubbles under the fiberglass tape (somehow). I had to perform some surgery on the big joint. Then, I had to completely remake the small forward joint. Maybe I didn’t measure the epoxy components properly? Nearest the bow, I remade the joint using some thickened epoxy between the butted edges. I also needed to make a small fillet, as the forward section of the bottom is made of Okoume 12mm, whereas the rest of the bottom is made of Doug. Fir 5/8″, which I had on hand. I know, I know, “Why would you try to make a flat panel out of different thicknesses of plywood?”  Next time I will not be doing that, as it adds too much complication.

Humbled yet again, I sat in a chair for a long time thinking about what I could’ve done differently. Payson made it sound so simple in his book! Anyway, I laid some blue tape and a straight line and measured offsets to join my side panels. I used lots of epoxy this time to really saturate the tape. Yes it ended up on my floor. I also used a bit of thickened epoxy in the actual joint (I think this helped). Then, after using a roller to remove air bubbles, I lay down some saran wrap and plywood and screwed it down just to hold it together. I was nervous to look the next morning…

They actually turned out great! I then carefully laid out the strongback with a straight string. I put it on casters so I could roll it slightly out of the garage when working, since otherwise the transom is right up against the wall. 

I recently learned that my neighborhood association will not allow permanently stored boats or boat trailers on the property. However, after fuming about it for a few days, I realized there would be a few advantages to storing the boat permanently in the garage, especially during hurricane season. Also, the finish might hold up longer, etc. I’m building the boat 5″ shorter than in the plans so it will fit in my garage. Trust me, I thought about all kinds of ways to build out my garage door so I could keep those 5” but didn’t come up with a reasonable solution. I briefly investigated the practice of scaling a boat’s length. It seems that boats often get stretched more successfully than “smooshed,” but we’re only talking about 2.5%, so I think it’ll be fine. Here’s hopin’!

Moving forward, while measuring things out, every 4′ becomes 47″. Things got more confusing than I thought. Here is the first bulkhead up at station 5.

I had trouble making sense of the plans regarding the transom bevels. After sitting and scratching my head for a long time, I cut some wood and made this.

I left the transom with some curve on top. This was meant to be an experiment in motorless cruising, so I didn’t see the need to cut out the motor mount yet. I know Chebacco was specifically designed to take an outboard, but I’d prefer to leave it off. I’m willing to take more time to account for tides, winds, etc., and possibly extra sail. I also realize I will need to build in safety features that don’t depend on an outboard. I am open to suggestions in this regard! My mission is to take the whole crew island-hopping in the Chesapeake Bay and Albermarle Sound over multiple days, albeit with primitive accommodations. 

Here is where I noticed I had somehow messed up the bevels on the stem. See the humongous gap? I had to do some re-thinking, then some re-shaping, and later some generous gluing.

There are 7 “frames,” including the transom, which are attached to the strongback. Only Frame 4 and the transom have vertical levels specified in the table of offsets, as far as I can tell. I tried to guess at the remaining 5. After this, I lay the side planks on the frames. It took HOURS to adjust the heights of the frames to make them look right. Since the side planks are vertical, they have defined marks from the plans for placement on the frames. These fore-aft marks on the planks lined up remarkably well with the frames.

See how the bow wants to stick out of my garage? It’s a good thing I measured so carefully! I was so proud of myself. Later, when I flipped the boat, it did NOT fit because the pointy bow hit the upper rolly part of the garage door. Why hadn’t I thought about that?

I had a tough time fitting the “bilge panels” in the forward section, but got it done with some straps and clamps. Maybe I should have laminated it instead, but it wasn’t too tough. You can see I also fit the keel pieces! The centerboard case is in there too. Trust me. This is a messy job, but the end product is quite satisfying! 

I spent some time on the inside fillets of thickened epoxy but decided to leave the fiberglass tape for when the boat was right-side up. I did fit the sheer stringer. Maybe you call it the clamp? Here is the ugliest part of it, where I scarphed in a piece and tried to make it look like it belonged there. Luckily, this piece will be under the deck behind the cockpit coaming and will not be visible in the finished boat. Here is the test with the centerboard pivoting in its case. I had to do some sanding with a long stick to smooth out the epoxy on the inside of the case. Once I got it working, I shaped and ballasted the board. I used some lead shot I found combined with some ingots I ordered online. I painted it with some red leftover Rustoleum hardware store paint. I mean, only fish will see it, right? 

I spent some time fairing the hull. I used West System fairing filler with some silica thickener. By this point, it was much harder to see the asymmetry between the topsides at the stem! 

Oh, and I started messing with an offcut from one of the spars to see if it could become the Jonesport cleat. I really like the look of the Chebacco bow, so I wanted to get this piece right! 

Chebacco News 66 – Power Cruisers

Susanne Altenburger – New Studies in power cruisers in MAIB

Here is something different – Susanne Altenburger, Phil Bolger’s partner in life and design, now widow but still active in the Bolger thinking space, muses on power cruisers in the Chebacco mould. This article, and some more articles coming in subsequent blogs, is reproduced with permission from Messing About In Boats, a monthly magazine that features “Bolger on Design” in each issue.